Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
Hi all,

Currently considering a prime/fixed focal length lens in the 85-100mm range and would appreciate thoughts, impressions, recommendations.

Amateur shooter here (not pro). I have a 60D- I mostly use zoom lenses, the only fixed-FL lens I have is the 35 1.4, which is great (starting to use it a bit more after ignoring it for a while). I used to have the 85 1.8 but traded it in towards a 70-200 2.8 (totally the right decision, love that lens), but now I'm starting to look for a possible alternative when I don't necessarily want to carry around the extra weight and/or gather attention.

Mainly this lens I might use for occasional sporting events (when 70-200 isn't practical due to weight, etc.), taking shots of flowers/foliage, and for shots when I want the background as blurred as possible. I'm not much of a portrait photographer- there are times where I've been asked to take someone's picture, but that is not really what I do (or have experience with).

Lenses I've been looking at:

I was considering buying the 85 1.8 again. Great lens, but from my usage the 70-200 2.8 is just as sharp at 85mm/2.8, and has better focus too. Too much purple fringing at 1.8 in my opinion.

85 1.2- tried it in store today. Amazed at the quality but was taken aback by how slow the focusing is. It's pretty bulky too. But I was wowed at the test photos I took with it- especially the test portrait shot which looked professional with almost no effort on my part...my concern here would be for the times I substitute the 70-200. I feel this lens would struggle to keep up with even moderately-paced action. I did run a quick test (took a burst of shots of someone walking away from camera), seemed ok but hard to tell. Expensive, too, but not completely out of range (better be a solid reason to drop 2K on a specialty lens!)

100 2 - also played around with this in store. Fast focusing, which is great...light weight, which is both good and bad (good being easier on the neck, bad being harder to steady since there is no IS). However, I found myself somewhat displeased with the purple fringing at f2 and the image quality (seemed a bit soft). Still, it is being considered mainly because of its inconspicuousness.

135 2 - tried this out as well. Excellent quality and light weight (same points as above). Quick focusing. However, I feel that because of its longer focal length, its usefulness is somewhat reduced. I can see this being a great substitute for the 70-200 though as far as sports go (mainly shooting in dimmer indoor environments).

Any others? I'd like to stick with Canon lenses if possible (I had a Tamron 17-50- it served my needs for about a year, then I traded it in for the 17-55 2.8 and afterwards, wondered what took me so long to do it). What are your recommendations, experiences, etc.? Any help would be appreciated
 

helpful

Ecclesiastes 3:11
Mar 6, 2012
247
2
There is only one choice for you in my opinion, given the prime lens consideration and the focal length range. That is the Sigma f/1.4 85mm. It is astonishing, really--more useful than the Canon f/1.2L. I actually ordered a second copy today. It's fast enough to shoot basketball, and by fast, I mean both the f-number and the focusing speed and accuracy. My first copy did need considerable microfocus adjustment, however. Afterwards it is super sharp across the board; er., I mean, across the frame.
 

elflord

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 2, 2011
692
0
If you want something in the 85-100mm range, faster than f/2.8 and a step up from the 85mm f/1.8, your only choices are the Sigma 85mm f/1.4, the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.2.

I'd recommend taking a good hard look at the Sigma 85mm f/1.4. It's one of the best lenses that nobody knows about.

tdp compares it with the 85mm f/1.2, the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.8. The Sigma is close to the 85mm f/1.2 and blows away the Zeiss and the f/1.8 in this test.

http://thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx

Lenstip sing its praises, recommending it over the brand lenses from Sony and Nikon:

http://www.lenstip.com/index.html?test=obiektywu&test_ob=277

Definitely a contender if you're looking in the 85-100mm range and want something that is a step up from the 85mm f/1.8
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
Thanks, guys. I'll take a look at this one as well. Although- I do have reservations about going 3rd party again after my experience with that Tamron lens mentioned earlier.

Something in TDP's review of the Sigma 85mm had me a little nervous:

I have been using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens a lot over the last few months with a frame count in the thousands. I find this to be a very useful lens - and one I really like to use. When I get an accurately-focused image, I really like the image quality from the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens - it is really nice. But accurate focusing is this lens' definite weakness - getting accurate focus has been an issue.

As of Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens review time, I have purchased (retail) three and returned two of these lenses. The first lens was consistently front focusing. The second lens was focusing so inconsistently that I wished for the first one back. The third lens is focusing very inconsistently, but does seem to average to the correct focus distance. I cut my losses and kept this copy of the lens.
Yet, the other review claimed there were no major focusing issues with the lens. I guess they were using the Nikon version though.


I like the price, though. Half that of the Canon 1.2...

Also, any owners of the 85 1.2, 100 2 or 135 2 that can vouch for their performance?
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,524
753
I'd vote for the 85mm f/1.8 plus Lightroom. That Purple fringing can now be removed in most cases, its a thing of the past!

Here is a before and after 100% crop of some nasty pupple fringing from my 85mm f/1.8. The new defringe feature in LR4.1 RC2 seems to work well.

Before:



After

 

elflord

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 2, 2011
692
0
I had to microfocus adjust mine by several clicks. If it makes you nervous, go to a brick and mortar where you can try it out in the shop.

I own the 135mm f/2. I use it as a (fantastic!) portrait lens on full frame, but it would also work well as a sports lens -- it is light and has very fast autofocus. As an APS-C portrait lens however, I wouldn't see much point in getting it if you already have the 70-200mm f/2.8. An 85mm will give you a nice shallow dof effect without having to stand back a long way.

To compare the two lenses, the Sigma 85mm does not AF as quickly as the Canon 135mm. I didn't have any problems with the AF accuracy (one shot, center point 5D MkII) after micro adjusting.

Regarding the TDP review -- I don't get why he didn't just keep the first lens (if he micro adjusted it, which he can do on the bodies he uses, he would have been set)
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,301
189
iaind said:
Have a look at the 100 2.8LIS Macro
+1. The 100mm macros would give you more creative flexibility for your foliage/flower shots than other choices. The 100L has IS and is more suited for general photography than the non L 100mm macro. I would not recommend any of the 85mm variants because portraiture is not your primary interest.
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
Ah, now that's a thought...I never considered macro lenses because I assumed they were specialty tools. Curious: would such a lens work for the occasional sporting event (stopping fast action) as well? And I SUPPOSE the occasional portrait shot should such an occasion arise?
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,301
189
Macro lenses have special capabilities but they don't have to be specialty tools. You trade zoom range and the the largest apertures for distance/magnification flexibility. 100L worked ok for the occassional sporting event but it IS so much easier with the 70-200 (I got the 100L first). It works fine for portraits too, but again the 70-200 would give you move flexibility. I think you would use the 100L a lot more if you had a 70-200 f/4 instead of the f/2.8. The 70-200 f/2.8 is a very flexible and capable tool. Where macros excel are flower shots and detail close ups. Most telephoto lenses have fairly long MFDs and middling to low max magnifcation factors. Macros do tend to open up a whole new perspective.
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
Hey all,

So I went back to the camera store today to try the two lenses recommended by folks here- the Sigma 85mm 1.4 and the Canon 100mm macro lens. The Sigma lens feels great; focusing seemed a tad inconsistent but more or less averaged the right distance. Not sure I want to go through the whole 3rd-party focus thing again, though, so I'm going to rule that one out at this point.

The Canon 100mm macro, OTOH, I thought was great. It's a little larger than I'd like, but the macro capability does open up a whole new realm of possibilities (NONE of the lenses I currently have can focus close). It's also weather-sealed, unlike the 85s so at least crud won't get in it so easily (already a long piece of hair(?) from goodness-knows-where found its way behind the rear element of my 35 1.4 after just one outdoor session, grr)...the one drawback I did see of the 100L was that one does have to manage the focus range of the lens (it can be quite slow if left on "full" the whole time) depending on what it's used for, but I do like it. Thanks for letting me know about this one, folks.

As I was walking back from the store, it struck me that I could actually get BOTH 100mm lenses (the macro L and the cheaper f2) and still spend less money than I would on the 85 1.2 alone. The macro 100mm is still too "obvious" of a lens when I don't want to draw attention in general shooting, wish to use in certain venues, etc. The 100 2 is small, fast, yet has decent reach. And the f2 opens up the option for shooting sports in darker environments. For the one I tried, the image quality didn't seem to match the other L primes, but it's a tradeoff that I'm willing to take. I think I'd actually have unique uses for both...something to think about, I guess.
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,301
189
Act444 said:
The Canon 100mm macro, OTOH, I thought was great. It's a little larger than I'd like, but the macro capability does open up a whole new realm of possibilities (NONE of the lenses I currently have can focus close). It's also weather-sealed, unlike the 85s so at least crud won't get in it so easily (already a long piece of hair(?) from goodness-knows-where found its way behind the rear element of my 35 1.4 after just one outdoor session, grr)...the one drawback I did see of the 100L was that one does have to manage the focus range of the lens (it can be quite slow if left on "full" the whole time) depending on what it's used for, but I do like it. Thanks for letting me know about this one, folks.

As I was walking back from the store, it struck me that I could actually get BOTH 100mm lenses (the macro L and the cheaper f2) and still spend less money than I would on the 85 1.2 alone. The macro 100mm is still too "obvious" of a lens when I don't want to draw attention in general shooting, wish to use in certain venues, etc. The 100 2 is small, fast, yet has decent reach. And the f2 opens up the option for shooting sports in darker environments. For the one I tried, the image quality didn't seem to match the other L primes, but it's a tradeoff that I'm willing to take. I think I'd actually have unique uses for both...something to think about, I guess.
Glad to hear that the 100L worked out well for you. Happy shooting!
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
Had time to play around with the 100L more extensively yesterday, took it out on a shoot. All I can say is wow. This is the lens that turns out I needed, but didn't know about. Have to thank you guys for making me aware of this! I have to say the sharpness is insane too. Definitely up there with 70-200, 35L...

I've ordered my own copy, should be here early next week!

Also looking at the 100 f2 for back-up sports use (70-200 will ALWAYS be first choice, but of course it's not always practical/possible)- has an extra stop, so that could be useful too.
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,301
189
Act444 said:
Also looking at the 100 f2 for back-up sports use (70-200 will ALWAYS be first choice, but of course it's not always practical/possible)- has an extra stop, so that could be useful too.
Now that you have full-blown L-disease, it might be worth looking into the 135L, which is also f/2 but can be used wide open, lol!
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
L-disease. lol. Possibly, but I definitely know better than to simply trust the red ring- it's the shots that come out of it that count the most! (Example: the 17-55 2.8 IS delivers similar quality to my 24-105mm L...and I used to have the 85 1.8 which gave many L zooms a run for their money in terms of sharpness)

I did try the 135L. Great lens. However, price aside, I'm really looking for something more inconspicuous. I don't want something so big/obvious that I may not be able to get into a venue with it, for example. The 100 2 is smaller, lighter, just as fast...not to mention half the price too. I'm normally willing to pay more for image quality, but I think this might be a situation where I have to compromise.

I'd love to hear from someone who does have the 100 2- or perhaps even the 135L to hear impressions.
 

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
My lens showed up today! Took some shots with it- seems to be a great lens but there is certainly a learning curve to macro photography, particularly when it's windy outside! :eek:
 

wickidwombat

EOS 5D SR
Oct 27, 2011
4,543
0
Random Orbits said:
iaind said:
Have a look at the 100 2.8LIS Macro
+1. The 100mm macros would give you more creative flexibility for your foliage/flower shots than other choices. The 100L has IS and is more suited for general photography than the non L 100mm macro. I would not recommend any of the 85mm variants because portraiture is not your primary interest.
+2 on this, while i really also recommend the sigma f1.4 85mm too i have both lenses and the 100 f2.8 macro is amazingly sharp and has the benefit of also being a macro lens so it can do alot
its super fast to focus and the IS on this is incredible, put it this way you can shoot at the same shutter speeds as the 85 f1.4 at 1.4 even though you are shooting at 2.8 (obviously this wont account for motion blur)

since you are shooting off a crop you arnt going to get the true benefits of an 85mm focal length lens so 85mm isnt going to give the same feeling it does on full frame.

both lenses are the smae price basically
the 100L also has weather sealing too which may be a consideration
It's well worth having a look at
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
100L is macro. It's new. It's stellar. Fast AF. It has latest IS. It's sharp as.
People here like this lens for very valid reasons. Get one.

Paul Wright
 

FlowerPhotog

EOS M50
Mar 2, 2011
32
0
If you are still considering the EF 100 2.0 lens, I have both it and the 100L. I bought the 100 2.0 a couple years ago as my first baby step up from EF-S lenses to use at the time on my t2i. I got it for the fast aperture and the good image quality that most of the reviewers noted. I have been extremely pleased with the image quality of the lens, it is virtually as sharp as the 100 2.8 L Macro and given the bigger aperture can even give you a better bokeh effect in some cases. I have seen some purple fringing on the edges of a few shots near wide open in high contrast areas but LR or DPP effectively removes that. One semi-drawback of the 100 2.0 is it's relatively long minimum focus distance (2.8'), but prior to getting the 100L Macro, I found using a set of Kenko extension tubes gave me a pretty good proxy for a macro lens, just no IS. After getting the 100 L Macro with it's great image stabilization system, I hadn't been using the 100 2.0 as much in mediocre lighting conditions due to my desire to keep the ISO lower on the t2i to minimize noise. As you can tell from my handle, I do a lot of flower photography and absent a tripod when in shady light, I didn't have quite steady enough hands to use the 100 2.0 at the stopped down apertures needed to get entire flowers in focus. In good light or with a tripod, however, I got some great shots with the 100 2.0, both semi-closeups and distant landscape shots. Now that I have a 5D Mark III, with its much much lower noise at higher ISO's , I find I am using the 2.0 in all lighting. The full format sensor is also providing even better bokeh on large aperture shots compared to what I got with the crop sensor t2i. Here's a hand held shot I took this evening with the 100 2.0 on my 5Dm3 in very poor light due to heavy overcast. Took it at f 2.0 , ISO was 800. This is a crop of about a half of the original frame.
 

Attachments

Act444

EOS 6D MK II
May 4, 2011
1,019
115
If you are still considering the EF 100 2.0 lens, I have both it and the 100L. I bought the 100 2.0 a couple years ago as my first baby step up from EF-S lenses to use at the time on my t2i. I got it for the fast aperture and the good image quality that most of the reviewers noted. I have been extremely pleased with the image quality of the lens, it is virtually as sharp as the 100 2.8 L Macro and given the bigger aperture can even give you a better bokeh effect in some cases. I have seen some purple fringing on the edges of a few shots near wide open in high contrast areas but LR or DPP effectively removes that. One semi-drawback of the 100 2.0 is it's relatively long minimum focus distance (2.8'), but prior to getting the 100L Macro, I found using a set of Kenko extension tubes gave me a pretty good proxy for a macro lens, just no IS. After getting the 100 L Macro with it's great image stabilization system, I hadn't been using the 100 2.0 as much in mediocre lighting conditions due to my desire to keep the ISO lower on the t2i to minimize noise. As you can tell from my handle, I do a lot of flower photography and absent a tripod when in shady light, I didn't have quite steady enough hands to use the 100 2.0 at the stopped down apertures needed to get entire flowers in focus. In good light or with a tripod, however, I got some great shots with the 100 2.0, both semi-closeups and distant landscape shots. Now that I have a 5D Mark III, with its much much lower noise at higher ISO's , I find I am using the 2.0 in all lighting. The full format sensor is also providing even better bokeh on large aperture shots compared to what I got with the crop sensor t2i.
Awesome, thanks for sharing your experience. Interesting to hear you mention that both 100s have similar sharpness levels- that's not what I saw when I tried them out a week ago...then again, the 100 2.0 lacks IS so perhaps that was part of the reason. Do/did you find the focus on the 100 2 relatively accurate/quick?

My primary use of the 100 2.0, like I mentioned, would be sports & fast-paced events where it would be impractical to take the 70-200 2.8 (or I REALLY need the extra stop). The 100L now fills the flower/macro/occasional portrait need. Since I'm using a 60D, 100mm would provide just enough reach provided I'm in the front/second row. I find it a bit long indoors, however. Got a 35mm and a 17-55 for that.

I just received the 100L today (as mentioned above) and tried it out. Seems to work great, although I probably should try again on a slightly calmer/sunnier day. Here's one shot I managed to get:

(EXIF: EOS 60D, 100L Macro, f11, 1/160s, ISO 2000)
 

Attachments